With Austin having the third worst traffic congestion in the country and more than 700,000 folks expected to move here over the next couple decades, it might be time to finally think realistically about building some sort of urban rail to help ease the congestion of this fine city. Of course, Austinites always seem to want better public transit, but voters don’t want to pay the costs. The result, as noted in the recently-released 30-year Comprehensive Plan proposal for Austin, comes at the expense of our general public health and air. And although the Texas Legislature approved the Lonestar Line in 1998 to connect Georgetown to San Antonio via rail, little has been done to provide an effective solution to help commuters.
So it’s time to think big, folks. It’s time to let our minds wander a bit and dream up something that could last hundreds of years and help many generations to come. It’s time to consider effective solutions that people will use.
Thanks to Cavallari Stewart, we can imagine a world in which Austin already has a subway. The Massachusetts design firm started Transit Authority Figures, a side project that begin by fantasizing improbable solutions in smaller towns. They’ve recently branched out to larger cities, and wanted to share a draft of their subway map of Austin. Check it:
[Click image to see a zoomable map of Austin’s Subway System]
I really love the thought they’ve put into this. Looking at this map, I imagine my morning commute going something like this: Walk to the Bouldin Creek subway stop, hop on the train, and after a short trip, I get off at the West 6th stop. Viola! Quick. Easy. No hassle. And how nice would it be to go out downtown on the weekends? Ot what about a family trip to Deep Eddy?
Here’s a close up:
According to the key, the stops would stretch deep into the suburbs:
They want the maps to be as realistic as possible, so they’re crowdsourcing this draft. They hope to get feedback from the folks that would potentially use the subway, if it existed. Here’s Creative Director Rob Stewart with a little more:
This is our first draft of the Austin Subway. Our hometown was easy to map because we knew where the stops should be and where the lines should run (and it’s small). For Austin (big), we’ve been studying maps and traffic patterns and consulting friends. But it’s important to get feedback from people who really know and love the metro area.
The lines all run out to the suburbs so that it serves commuters as well as urban dwellers. We wanted to connect hospitals and airports, colleges and museums, shopping centers and public spaces. We also want to make sure there is plenty of local flare—places only folks from the old neighborhood might get—as if the subway had been built 100 years ago.
Ok, me first: For starters, Congress Avenue north of the river is just called “Congress Ave,” not “N Congress.” Also, the Barton Hills stop seems like it might be a little too far east to service the neighborhood that lies west of Bouldin Creek, not north of it. And what neighborhood is Bailey Park?
What do you think of the map? Do the locations of the lines and stops make sense? Are there high traffic places or popular destinations along the lines that don’t have a stop and should? Or are there ways the stops or lines should be renamed? It’s the little details, things that only people from Austin would know, that make these maps endearing to the people that live here.
Let’s imagine this was real. What would you improve? Leave messages for the creators in the comments!
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